oppn parties Political Funding Reforms: This Government is Not Serious

News Snippets

  • Special DG (Training) in CRPF, S N Shrivastava, appointed special commissioner (law & order) in Delhi Police in order to quell the violence. He is also expected to take over as chief of Delhi police once Amulya Patnaik's term ends on February 29
  • Curfew and shoot at sight orders reportedly in force in some areas, but Delhi Police HQ does not issue a notice for the same
  • The Central government has pressed paramilitary forces to control the riots in Delhi
  • Mobs in Delhi target journalists, check them for religious identity and snatch equipment
  • 13 people deal until now in one of the worst spells of violence in Delhi
  • Violence in Delhi shows no signs of abating with fresh areas in the north-eastern part of the capital coming under its grip
  • Delhi High Court says DGCA was wrong in approving the flying ban on stand-up comic Kunal Kamra by airlines other than Indigo for his alleged misbehavior with TV anchor Arnab Goswami aboard an Indigo flight
  • The Bihar assembly passes a resolution to stick to the old NPR form, making it the first NDA state to do so
  • Arms deal for advanced helicopters, worth $3bn, signed with the US, but the trade deal remains elusive
  • Trump says he has a good equation with Pak PM Imran Khan and assures India that Pakistan is working to reduce cross border terrorism
  • Trump once again offers to mediate in the Kashmir issue
  • Trump says it is up to India to decide on the CAA
  • US President Donald Trump says PM Modi wants religious freedom for all
  • US President Donald Trump lands in Ahmedabad, received at the airport by Prime Minister Modi
  • US President Donald Trump to land in India today
Continuing violence in Delhi takes the sheen off the visit by US President Donald Trump
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Political Funding Reforms: This Government is Not Serious

By Sunil Garodia
First publised on 2017-03-23 11:41:26

About the Author

Sunil Garodia Editor-in-Chief of indiacommentary.com. Current Affairs analyst and political commentator. Writes for a number of publications.
Buoyed by the lack of corruption in the upper echelons of this NDA government, one was expecting that it will bring about transparency in political funding and election spending, the two most opaque things that lead to corruption and worse. When Arun Jaitley had reduced the amount of cash political parties could receive as donation from a single source in his 2017 budget proposals, one was further enthused that more important reforms would be undertaken in due course.

But belying all hopes, Jaitley has introduced an amendment in his budget proposals that will make donations even more opaque. Hitherto, companies could donate up to 7.5% of their average net profits in the three immediately preceding years to one or more political parties. By proposing an amendment to the Companies Act, 2013, the finance minister seeks to withdraw the cap and the restriction.

Further, what troubles more is that companies will no longer be obliged to disclose the name of the political party to which they have made the donation. This will lead to big corruption as ruling parties can ask for donation to party funds (not needed to be disclosed and hence untraceable) in return for bestowing favours like licenses to companies.

Also, since funding through Election Bonds can be done without disclosing the names, companies should be barred from purchasing more than a certain amount of Bonds every year. In their case, it should be mandatory to disclose the name of the party to whom they paid through such Bonds. Ideally, it will be better if the Election Bond route is kept open only for individuals or non-corporate entities.

The intention of reforming political funding is to smash the cosy nexus between political parties and big business. This amendment is going to achieve the opposite. Hence, it should be withdrawn immediately. Some experts have pointed out that the section in the Companies Act could have been deleted ‘inadvertently.’ If it is indeed so, it should be restored without delay. It is fine if the government wishes to remove the cap, but disclosure norms should stay.